What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, Fortune of the Republic (1878)
In Nature, Emerson defines nature “in the common sense” as “essences unchanged by man; space, the air, the river, the leaf.” This page will explore Emerson’s relationship with nature as such. Much of Emerson’s work pursued the answer to the question: “to what end is nature?” We will not answer that question here; rather, you will find here the physical essences that inspired Emerson and awakened in him the desire to seek answers in the natural world.
Click on the captions below to explore Emerson's use of these facets of nature.